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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Pioneers of Language Planning          475
ls make a fire of, make a fuss about, make trouble Reliance on such
combinations is the method of verb-economy peculiar to Basic English.
The Basic Word List contains only the verbs come, go, get, give, keep,
le^ make, put, seem, take, be, do, have, say, see, send, may, will It is
possible to say anything in effective English which does not offend
accepted conventions of grammar without introducing any verbs not
included in this list.
We could make any language more easy to learn by lopping off
its useless flexions and regularizing those which are useful, and if
we deprived French of its preposterous encumbrance of personal
flexions (fifty per cent unpronounced) aad the still more preposterous
burden of gender or number concord^ Frenchmen might stall decipher
the product, as we can decipher pidgin English It is doubtful whether
this would help a foreigner to read French books, and the gieat prac-
tical advantage of a living, in contradistinction to a constructed, lan-
guage is the amenity of cheap books already available Besides, no
Frenchman would agiee to learn a mutilated form of his own language
as an auxiliary for peaceful communication.
This is not the result at which Ogden aims Spelling reform or
simplification of Anglo-American grammar^ beyond the elimination of
optional survivals for which accepted isolating constructions already
exista would lead to something different from the Anglo-American in
which millions of cheaply produced books come out yearly So Ogden
accepts all the few obligatory flexions and irregularities inherent in
correct usage and rejects only those (e g the optional genitive) which
we need not use He has proved his claims for Basic as a means of self-
expression by translating technical works and narratives for educational
use into a terse idiom which is not unpleasing to most of us The prose
style of J B S.Haidane is often almost pure Basic Basic is not essentially
a different sort of English from Anglo-American as we usually under-
stand the term It would be better to describe it as a system by which a
beginner can leani to express himself clearly and correctly according to
accepted standards with no more effort than learning a constructed
language entails
The recently published New Testament in Basic is a sufficient
refutation of the criticism that Basic is a pidgin English The word list
of the Basic New Testament contains some special Bible words which
make the total up to a round 1,000 The following is a fair sample for
comparison witli the King James (Authorized) Bible (Mark x. 21-24
zndActsw 32)